The United States guarantee of a free public education is actually quite expensive. There are school registration fees, lunches, clothes, school supplies, and required doctor exams and vaccinations to worry about. This can make a huge impact on family budgets that may already be stretched past the breaking point. Luckily, many back to school budget programs exist to provide relief to needy families.
Free Lunch Program
The free lunch program provides free school milk and lunches to low-income students. This program is nothing new; it was signed into effect by Harry Truman in 1946. With the poor economy, high costs, shrinking profits, and high unemployment rates, the number of needy families whose circumstances have changed is great. Many of these programs are tied to reduced or waived school fees. If you wish to apply for this program, check with your local school for eligibility requirements and the application processes.
Tax Free School Shopping
Texas began this program in 1999 and many states have followed their lead. Sixteen states now participate in a tax free school shopping holiday to help provide families relief on back to school supply costs. Click here to see if your state participates, to find dates, and regulations.
Many communities have programs to help struggling parents by providing school supplies they can’t afford. For example, the Quad Cities’ 1st Day Program supplies new notebooks, pencils, pens, and other school supplies to twenty thousand kids enrolled in the free or reduced school lunch program. Check with your local school and news services or search the internet for programs in your area.
Many PTAs also help out by buying supplies in bulk and creating packages of required supplies at a reduced cost for their school districts. Check with your school to see if these programs exist in your district.
Required Shots and Physicals
The best place to search for free or reduced price programs is your local health department. Most health departments provide vaccinations at a fraction of the cost of doctor offices. Check with your personal doctor and your school to see if there are clinics provided at reduced cost for health physicals.
Sending your kids back to school can be quite costly. Help is available; you just have to find it. Start early by obtaining the school supply list from your school and applying for school programs. Your school should also be a great source of information for other programs which provide school budget relief in your area.